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Behavioral Therapy

Behaviour modification intervention

Shaping of a progressive society depends not only on the material resources it has but also on the skills that people possess. Thus, shaping of human skills is recognised as an area of great concern in today’s world. How well we modify human behaviour to maximise his/her potential is an issue of considerable significance. Helping people learn new patterns of effective responding, eliminating the ineffective ones and, thereby, improving the quality of life are among the broadest goals of behaviour therapy. In this context, behaviour therapy which is also known as applied behaviour analysis has made substantial contribution.

Behaviour therapy emerged as a technology of behaviour change in the 1930s and is considered an important milestone in the development of psychology as a behavioural science. Its adherence to principles of learning distinguishes it from other approaches to behaviour change. It includes all those procedures, which are derived from or at least consistent with the findings of experimental psychology, particularly in the field of learning (Chesser 1970). Its primary focus is on the present behaviour, therefore, it is considered as a ‘here-and-now’ approach. Empiricism is its guiding principle. Behaviour therapy has been playing a significant role in alleviating human miseries., the role of learning is so critical. However, people learn not only through direct.

Behaviour analysis is a scientifically validated approach to understanding behaviour and how it is affected by the environment in this context, Behaviour is a broad term that refers to the full range of actions and skills of a person, environment includes any influence like physical or social that might change or be changed by ones behaviour.We hear more and more today about the chronic behaviour problems of students, some of these students have disabilities and others do not .Each needs and deserve help in learning how to behave both in school and outside settings.

On a practical sense the principles and methods of behaviour analysis have helped many different kinds of learners acquire many different skills- from healthier lifestyles to the mastery of a new language and reducing the problem behaviour. Since the 1960s, therapist have been applying behaviour analysis to help children with Autism and related developmental disorders. The most generally successful approach for children with autism is behavioural therapy, it is the main tool for developing social and communication skills. It focus on the principles that explain how learning takes place. Reinforcement is one such a principle. When a behaviour is followed by some sort of reward , the behaviour is more likely to be repeated.

What are the behaviours considered as socially significant ?

Socially significant behaviours includes reading, academics, social skills, communication, and adaptive living skills. Adaptive living skills include gross and fine motor skills, eating and food preparation, toileting dressing, personal self care, domestic skills, and money and value, home and community orientation , and work skills.
Unfortunately the child with autism and other developmental disability cannot acquire these socially significant behaviours appropriately, because of that the professionals use behaviour therapy for improving these social skills .
In contemporary scientific literature, terms like ‘behaviour therapy’, ‘behaviour modification’ and ‘applied behaviour analysis’ are often used interchangeably; –it is a form of psychotherapy that involves reducing or eliminating behaviors and habits that are destructive, unhealthy, or undesirable and learning or increasing more appropriate behaviors. It is based on the premise that we are all shaped or “conditioned” by our environment. We learn to continue doing behaviors that are reinforced in some manner, and to stop doing those that aren’t. In traditional behavior therapy, maladaptive or abnormal behaviors are believed to be the result of defective learning.

Behaviour modification techniques

There are various modification methods to use for developing adaptive skills and reducing problem behaviour. They are

  • Positive reinforcement
  • Negative reinforcement
  • Punishment
  • Systematic de sensitization
  • Flooding
  • Aversive therapy
  • Extinction
  • Modelling
  • Token economy
  • Shaping
  • Chaining
  • Time out


Reinforcement
Reinforcement plays a vital role in strengthening and maintaining most of our behaviours in day-to-day life. In a way, the living organism’s survival and behavioural processes are closely linked with the delivery of reinforcement. it pairing a positive stimulus to a behaviour.

Negative reinforcement
It is the opposite and is paring of a behaviour to the removal of a negative stimulus

Punishment
It is designed to weaken behaviours by paring an unpleasant stimulus to a behaviour

Flooding
Involves exposing people to fear invoking objects or situation intensely and rapidly.

Systematic de sensitization
It also used to. Treat phobias and involve teaching a systematic ways

Aversion therapy
It is the paring of an unpleasant stimuli to unwanted behaviour in order to eliminate that behaviours.

Extinction
It is the removal of all reinforcement that might be associated with a behaviour.

Modelling
The younger client learns new skills by imitating others such as a parent or a therapist , who performs the behaviour to be acquired. It promote the learning of simple skills such as self feeding,and other adaptive skills.

Shaping
It is the process of reinforcing successively closer and closer approximation to a desired terminal behaviour.

Chaining
Any skill can be thought of as a chain of small steps.these small steps are identified by completing a Task Analysis, each steps oe chain serves as a cue to do the next step. By building one step onto another learned step in the sequence, a strong chain can be created this is called chaining.

How behaviour therapy benefit for autistic children?

Until recently, autism has been considered by many as a hopeless, incurable, and absolute condition. Now, however, research suggests that intensive behavioural intervention, begun when a child is between 2 and 5 yrs old, can have a significant and lasting positive impact. This intervention leads to improvement in virtually all children, and in some cases it leads to complete eradication of any sign of the disorder. While behavioural intervention is also the treatment of choice for older children and adults with autism, research shows that its potential for dramatic improvement is greatest with young children. The behaviour techniques can be used in structured situations such as classroom lesson as well as in everyday situations. The therapy sessions involve in individuals and groups. Behaviour therapy as a safe and effective treatment for autism. It can produce improvements in communication, social skills, play, self care, school and employment.